Kharbanda, Dr. Prem

2000 Winner: Innovation in Agricultural Sciences

Researcher Instrumental In Saving Alberta Canola Industry

Dr. Prem Kharbanda has been instrumental in preventing the spread of blackleg disease in canola, saving Alberta producers approximately $400 million in lost crop. Blackleg is one of the most destructive diseases of canola. It almost wiped out the Australian canola industry in 1972 and in Saskatchewan destroyed between 10 and 50 per cent of the infected canola crops resulting in lost revenue of more than $500 million over the past 10 years.

Critical Action

Losses in Alberta have been comparatively insignificant as a result of Dr. Kharbanda’s efforts to help producers take timely action and prevent further spread of the disease. His major contributions in this area include a disease prevention program that involves disease monitoring, seed testing and producer education, a Blackleg Alert Kit™ that is now commercially available to agricultural producers for rapid diagnosis of blackleg in canola, and the discovery and development of a bacterium that suppresses blackleg when used with a compost mixture.

Dr. Kharbanda’s efforts are recognized nationally and internationally by colleagues, government agencies, producer organizations and agro-chemical companies. He has authored more than 175 scientific reports, including research papers in international journals and presentations at international meetings. He has been interviewed for several agricultural trade publications such as The Western Producer, Canola Guide and Canola Digest.